Risk of Earthquakes in Wisconsin?

The earthquake near Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Tuesday January 12th was a 7.0 magnitude on the Richter Scale, a significant quake felt hundreds of miles from the epicenter and it caused massive damage in much of Haiti.  This may make you wonder, is there a threat of earthquakes in Wisconsin?  Believe it or not the answer is yes.  Are we at risk for a major earthquake like those that occur along the New Madrid or San Andres Fault?  Probably not.  No less, there are fault lines located in the Badger State and yes there have been some quakes not far away from Wisconsin.  At least in recent memory is one which took place in the southern U.P. of Michigan on January 14, 1988 and only a couple of years ago on April 18, 2008 near Mt. Carmel in southeastern Illinois.  These quakes were relatively minor on the Richter Scale at 3.6 and 4.8, but still caused a bit of damage close to their epicenter, and the rumbles were felt in Wisconsin.

So are there fault lines that run through North Central Wisconsin?  Not quite, but there are a few close by.  These include the Douglas Thrust Fault in the NW corner of the state, the Pine Fault found in Burnett and Polk Counties, the Lake Owens Thrust Fault that extends into western Ashland County, and the Dutchman Creek Fault near Green Bay.  There are additional fault lines in southern Wisconsin from near Madison to the suburbs of Milwaukee and further south from New Diggings to Milton.  For more information on these fault lines, check out this link.  According to the USGS there has not been an earthquake of magnitude 3.5 or greater reported in Wisconsin for the past 30 years.  Good news in the sense of not having one, bad news because at some point down the road in the years or decades ahead, there could perhaps be one.  If you are wondering, the last significant earthquake in the U.S. hit Northridge, California on January 17, 1994, which was a 6.9 on the Richter Scale.  Check out these resources from the USGS which breaks down state by state the last earthquake to occur and a map off all those quakes that have happened in the past week.

Overall, fault lines extend across the world.  Here's a map, with the fault lines illustrated by the black lines.

So as if severe weather wasn't enough to have to keep tabs on, you've also got earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis that could impact not only parts of the United States but many of the other continents in the world.  With than said, this is an opportune time to lend your support for earthquake relief in Haiti.  Below are a few links that provide information to make donations or to volunteer your time to assist in the efforts.

American Red Cross   Unicef USA   Oxfam International   Clinton Bush Haiti Fund         The Salvation Army

Additional Haiti Disaster Relief links from CNN.com

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